Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | May 18, 2022

Strange Giant in the Milky Way

(3 Minute Read plus video. 18May2022)

Sagittarius A*
Event Horizon Telescope image
(Credit: European Southern Observatory)

Could one of the Great Creator’s most curious and mystifying designs be at the center of our own galaxy?
God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannot comprehend. (Job 37:5)

Astronomers believe that at the center of most galaxies are massive black holes.

Black holes are believed to be collapsed stars that are so dense that not even light can escape the gravitational pull of the star. Hence the name, “black hole.”

Sagittarius A*

Astronomers believe there is a supermassive black hole (SMBH) at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Named Sagittarius A*, it lies about 27,000 light-years from Earth with a mass about four million times that of the sun and a radius of 4.2 billion miles. It is huge!!! (A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, almost 6 trillion miles.)
It is God who does great things, unfathomable, and wondrous works without number. (Job 9:10)

The name Sagittarius A* was coined by astronomer Robert Brown who along with Bruce Balick discovered it in February 1974. Brown appended the asterisk because the discovery was exciting, and excited states of atoms are indicated by asterisks. Subsequently asterisks have been used to denote an object at the center of a galaxy.

The presence of a massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way has long been inferred by astronomers based on the motion of nearby stars. In 2020 astrophysicists Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez won the Nobel Prize in Physics for showing that Sagittarius A* is a supermassive compact object. Their calculations tracking stars orbiting the object yielded evidence that the object was so massive and so dense that it had to be a black hole.

Map of the Milky Way Galaxy
Shows the relative position of the Sun and Sagittarius A* at the center.
(Prepared by Pablo Carlos Budassi for Wikipedia. Click to enlarge.)

Just last week physicists released the first image of Sagittarius A*. It was obtained from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a virtual telescope equivalent to a telescope about the size of the entire earth. Signals from eight radio telescopes around the globe were combined.

During five nights in April 2017, astronomers at eight observatories around the world from Spain to the South Pole and from Chile to Hawaii collected nearly 4 petabytes (4,000 terabytes or 4 million gigabytes) of data.

For five years 300 researchers from 80 institutes around the world worked diligently using supercomputers to process, collate, and analyze the mass of data that had been collected. Finally on May 12, 2022, the first image of Sagittarius A* was released.

Here is a four and a half minute video explaining how the EHT obtained a “picture” of Sagitarius A*.

The Great Creator’s Work

The Great Creator has populated His universe with many amazing, very cool objects. Sagittarius A* was completely unknown until the 1970s when radioastronomers noticed a source of radio emissions from the center of the Milky Way galaxy. What other marvels of the Great Creator await discovery in the vast reaches of the universe?
Who does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number. (Job 5:9)

Black holes are certainly some of His most intriguing and most puzzling creations. What is their purpose in the universe? Do they help hold galaxies together?
O LORD, how many are Thy works! In wisdom Thou hast made them all.
(Psalm 104:24)

Sagittarius A* and all black holes should elicit man’s praise to the One who made them and maintains them. We stand in awe of such mind-blowing creations as we wonder about them and as we research what the Great Creator has made.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. (Psalm 19:1-3)

Questions to Ponder

1. What Scripture would you give someone who feels that black holes are frightening?
2. What purpose can you imagine for why the Great Creator placed black holes in the heavens?

Share your thoughts on this question in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

For Christ and His Kingdom. Soli Deo Gloria. Alere Flammam Veritatis.

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
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(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday May 18, 2022 A.D.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. (Psalm 19:1-3)

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  1. Very interesting and educational. Thanks for sharing.


    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Clif. I’m glad the article was beneficial, and I appreciate your feedback.


  2. Thanks for nourishing the flame of truth with this blog.
    Question 1) Psalm 19:1-3 is a good choice but along the lines of if I have a proper fear of my Father & my Father can be completely trusted to love, provide & protect me any verse speaking of a holy fear of Him would calm me. (Mat 10:28, Ecc 12:13, Job 28:28) Still, I’m glad God made sure Event Horizon’s were placed far away for me to ponder from safety!
    Question 2) Black Holes are inherently violent things that are, when we see them particularly because we know why they are seen (actively consuming stuff), consuming matter at a ferocious pace. I think they should remind us of, of course and most obviously, the unfathomable power of God and the beauty even off His recycling mechanisms, but also that we are living in a groaning universe because of our sin. I wonder, that said, what such phenomenon will be like in the new creation. With our new bodies with all that will entail if such things will seem so intimidating to us or just objects that lead to purer and deeper worship of the Creator of these things?


    • Thanks for reading and for your insightful and eloquent comments.


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